Alexander Douglas – a writer of both music and words

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A self-confessed ‘humanities geek in the body of a musician,’ Alexander Douglas (MA MMus MA PGCert FRSA) writes both words and music in a range of contexts and settings and is available for commissions, consultancy, education projects, teaching engagements and live performances. Alexander has spent twenty years ‘triangulating’ in music (across classical music, jazz and gospel music as composer/MD, instrumentalist and composer/arranger) and now triangulates across music, the humanities and mental health.

Since 2018, Alexander has been accepted into national and international conferences in Durham, York, Wolverhampton, Preston, London, Canterbury, Oxford, Montecassiano, Nairobi, Vilnius, Tbilisi and elsewhere. He convened and chaired a very significant all-BAME panel on anticolonialism, agency and musical praxis for the Auralities series at CRASSH (Cambridge) in June 2021. During 2019 he was also a Visiting Lecturer (equal to ‘Adjunct Professor’ in US parlance) at the London School of Theology where he taught music and theological aesthetics and supervised undergraduate students working on projects at the intersection of music, psychology and theology. During 2020-2021 he guest lectured at Royal Holloway, Leeds University and addressed the Composition Colloquium at the University of California at Berkeley whilst also becoming a Visiting Lecturer at the Faculty of Music at Cambridge University. He has begun to publish in peer-reviewed academic journals, and he has also authored two book chapters for edited volumes (Routledge, IB Tauris Academic) with a third (Routledge) currently in review. He is an Associate Editor for the leading international journal Contemporary Music Review, and he is also a full Associate of NHS Research & Development Northwest with whom he works on projects ranging from creativity to communication. He has also served in senior roles with two church conference regions covering both Northern and Southern England.

As conductor/MD, composer/arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Alexander is also the Artistic Director of ADM Productions and has been commissioned by the 2021 Manchester Jazz Festival to write An Elegy for the Departed: Remembering Tulsa 1921 for the chamber jazz ensemble Hymnos. A prolific blogger, he has been read by thousands of readers in nearly 120 countries worldwide. In addition to the blog on this site, he blogs specifically on aspects of music and theology and on mental health as well as other issues. He is the EDI (equality + equity, diversity and inclusivity) Lead for the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, the Royal Musical Association Music Philosophy Study Group and Jazz North, and also a member of the EDI Steering Group for the Ivors Academy.

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Born in Tanzania to parents who hail from Guyana (the only English-speaking country in South America), Alexander completed his secondary education in Manchester (his UK ‘hometown’) before moving to London to begin what has become a lifelong study project (also taking in Cardiff, Lampeter, Preston etc) encompassing a) both musicology and ethnomusicology; b) classical music forms from Western and Eastern Europe, several parts of Asia and the Middle East; c) folk/vernacular traditions from all around the world; d) Western vernacular traditions including jazz; e) anthropology; f) African language literatures; g) post-colonial theory; h) philosophy; i) cultural theory; j) theology and more – along with music performance traditions from classical choral conducting to klezmer music as a clarinettist…and he hasn’t finished yet! His most recent interest is in the area of mental health – and particularly its relationship to language, culture, cognition, religious identity and praxis, artistic practice and identity – and wider community.

His personal and professional aspirations are two-fold:

  1. developing his output as both a writer of text in more than one context (academic publications, magazine articles, reviews (as well as his own blogs) and as a composer and arranger of music;
  2. finding new ways to bring rigorous thinking and praxis in the arts to the conversation/s across religion, philosophy, science and (mental) health.